TagDemocratic primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 30 (August 12, 2020)

This week: Working Families Party endorses Markey, Schiff endorses Kennedy; Local Sunrise coalition retracts Morse endorsement in MA-01; Outgoing Rep. RoseLee Vincent endorses Giannino in Mass.’s 16th Suffolk District House primary

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On the National Rifle Association lawsuit in N.Y.

“[T]here’s a certain Trumpian flair to New York’s efforts to hound a political organization with which they disagree into submission. The alleged corruption of many of the NRA’s top leaders has long demanded some form of legal scrutiny. This fact ultimately justifies [N.Y. Attorney General Letitia] James’s investigation. At the same time, New York’s proposed sanction may be disproportionate to the offense …


“Should the NRA be disbanded? I wouldn’t miss it or its shameless indifference to deaths from mass shootings or its record of stoking baseless fears about race wars or its curdled try-hard machismo … But I can’t bring myself to embrace the notion that a state attorney general—any state attorney general—should be able to disband one of the nation’s most popular political organizations because its leaders misused its members’ donations.”

Matt Ford, The New Republic, Aug. 6, 2020

“According to a statement by James on Twitter, the lawsuit accuses [NRA CEO Wayne] LaPierre … and the NRA as a whole of failing to fulfill their fiduciary obligation to the organization, contributing to a loss of $64 million.


“As a staunch supporter of gun control, I’ve long been disgusted with the NRA for its massive lobbying efforts against even the most common-sense reforms. But while this case will unavoidably generate accusations of partisan motivations, the extent of the fraud and financial abuse alleged in the lawsuit would justify legal action against any organization. It’s no secret that plenty of left-leaning Americans would be happy to see the NRA die. The allegations in James’ lawsuit suggest that those on the right should feel the same way.”

Mariah Kreutter, The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 6, 2020

Election results

Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District: Incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar won with 57% of the vote, followed by Antone Melton-Meaux with 39%. Two other candidates each received less than 2%. This was the first time in more than 85 years that an incumbent U.S. representative from Minnesota had more than two primary challengers.

Governor of Vermont: David Zuckerman won with 51% of the vote. Rebecca Holcombe received 40%. Patrick Winburn and Ralph Corbo each received less than 10%. Zuckerman is Vermont’s lieutenant governor. Holcombe was Vermont’s education secretary from 2014 to 2018. Incumbent Gov. Phill Scott (R) won the Republican primary.

Lieutenant Governor of Vermont: Molly Gray defeated Timothy Ashe, Debbie Ingram, and Brenda Siegel in the Democratic primary. Gray received 46% of the vote. Ashe was second with 35%. Siegel and Ingram each received less than 10%. Gray is an assistant attorney general. Ashe is a state senator and serves as the chamber’s president pro tempore.

Vermont Auditor: Incumbent Doug Hoffer won with 59% of the vote to Linda Sullivan’s 41%. No Republican candidate filed for this race, meaning Hoffer’s only opposition in the general election will be Vermont Progressive Party nominee Cris Ericson.

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney runoff: Fani Willis defeated incumbent Paul Howard, who has held the office since 1997. With 91% of precincts reporting, Willis had received 73% of the vote to Howard’s 27%. In the June 9 primary, Willis led with 42% of the vote to Howard’s 35%. She is unopposed in the November general election.

U.S. Congress

Working Families Party endorses Markey, Schiff endorses Kennedy

The Working Families Party endorsed Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) endorsed Joe Kennedy in the Senate primary in Massachusetts.

Maurice Mitchell, Working Families Party national director, said of Markey’s support for the Green New Deal, “A lot of members co-endorse pieces of legislation, but there’s a difference between having your staff put your name next to other names and those who are actually organizing within their caucus, and also organizing on the front lines of the fight. … It’s a significant distinction. [Markey’s] been one of the better champions on that and a host of other progressive issues.” 

Schiff said, “As a Framingham native, I feel strongly about many things, but two especially: the Red Sox and Joe Kennedy. From the moment I met Joe, I saw him as the powerful, progressive voice that Massachusetts needs. I hope you’ll support Joe as well, and go Red Sox.” Schiff is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and played a leading role in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Markey and Kennedy have each received endorsements from prominent Democrats. Markey’s endorsers include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and former Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died last month, endorsed Kennedy.

Markey has called Kennedy a “progressive in name only,” saying he has not led on issues such as Medicare for All, climate change, and the demilitarization of police during his time in the U.S. House. Kennedy says the state and country need a “new generation of leadership with the energy and courage to fight for change.” He has criticized Markey’s support of the 1994 crime bill and said Markey has been absent from the state.

Markey has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy has been in the House since 2013. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

Local Sunrise coalition retracts Morse endorsement in MA-01

The Sunrise Western Mass Coalition, a hub of local Sunrise Movement chapters, retracted its endorsement of Alex Morse for Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District, citing the College Democrats of Massachusetts’ allegation that Morse engaged in inappropriate conduct with college students. Morse, the mayor of Holyoke and a former lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is challenging incumbent Richard Neal in the primary

On its Facebook page, the group said: “Alex has shown a disturbing pattern of poor judgement and abuse of power. Although we still strongly support the policies that Alex champions, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, we can no longer say that we trust him with the power of the MA-01 congressional seat.”

Morse said in a statement,

I want to be very clear about this. I have never, in my entire life, had a non-consensual sexual encounter with anyone. I have never used my position of power as Mayor and UMass lecturer for romantic or sexual gain, or to take advantage of students. I have never violated UMass policy. Any claim to the contrary is false. As I’ve acknowledged, I have had consensual relationships with other men, including students enrolled at local universities that I’ve met using dating apps.


While I am confident that a full investigation into these matters will clear my name completely of any unethical conduct, I also recognize that some students felt uncomfortable with interactions they had with me. I am sorry for that. This is unacceptable behavior for anyone with institutional power. 

The LGBTQ Victory Fund said in a statement, “Alex is taking responsibility for actions that made students uncomfortable and we support the independent investigation by UMass, despite no complaints having ever been made to the university. But it is critical the media and others avoid reinforcing tired homophobic tropes or sensationalizing this story because of Alex’s sexual orientation.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appeared in an ad for Neal. She says he has helped lead the fight against Trump and delivered $1 billion for western and central Massachusetts. Neal is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He was first elected to the House in 1988. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes releases energy plan

New Hampshire state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (D) released his energy plan Aug. 6. Feltes’ proposal called for New Hampshire to expand its offshore wind capacity, allow customers to sell more power back to the grid, and ensure all state-owned buildings are carbon-neutral. Feltes’ goal is to eliminate coal, oil, and gas from New Hampshire’s energy production by 2050.

Feltes’ opponent in the Democratic primary, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, released a three-part plan earlier in the year. Volinsky’s plan called on New Hampshire to hold future energy projects to a selective standard and reject those using environmentally-harmful means of generating energy. Volinsky called on New Hampshire to join the U.S. Climate Alliance and to join with other New England states in regional environmental projects. Volinsky also called for state-owned buildings to be carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Although both plans called for New Hampshire to end its use of natural gas, Feltes’ proposal would phase it out more slowly than Volinsky’s. Feltes said this was a reflection of the reality that most state residents use oil or natural gas to heat their homes and would need time to transition to a new heating method. Volinsky said the state was reliant on hydraulic fracturing for its natural gas and that it would not be sustainable to continue to use natural gas for another 20 years.

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face the winner of the Repubican primary, where Gov. Chris Sununu (R) faces two challengers. Two election forecasters say the Republican nominee is likely to win the general election, while a third says it leans in the Republican’s favor.

Race recap: Governor of Montana

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries and ahead to the November elections.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney defeated Whitney Williams to win the Democratic nomination for governor of Montana in a primary on June 2. Cooney received 55% of the vote to Williams’ 45%. Incumbent Steve Bullock (D) is term-limited and running for U.S. Senate this year.

Cooney said he was an experienced public official who had won four statewide elections and was the best candidate to keep Montana’s governorship in Democratic hands. His endorsers included Bullock, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

Williams said she had extensive experience in the private sector and would represent a new generation of leadership. Her endorsers included 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D), former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), and EMILY’s List, which spent just under $700,000 on ads supporting her.

Cooney and his running mate, state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, will face the Republican ticket of Greg Gianforte and Kristen Juras. Election forecasters say the general election is a toss-up; while the last Republican to win election as governor of Montana was Judy Martz in 2000, the state has backed every Republican presidential candidate since Bob Dole (R) in 1996.


Outgoing Rep. RoseLee Vincent endorses Giannino in Mass.’s 16th Suffolk District House primary

On Aug. 10, outgoing 16th Suffolk District Representative RoseLee Vincent (D) endorsed Jessica Giannino in the two-way Sept. 1 primary to select the Democratic nominee. Vincent said, “I want our next state representative to have the tenacity and guts to stand up to Wheelabrator, Massport and other companies who dare to disrespect us and our communities. I want Jessica Giannino!”

Giannino faces Joe Gravellese in the primary, which has seen a number of endorsements in recent weeks. There are no other candidates filed in the race, meaning it is likely the winner of the Democratic primary will be the 16th Suffolk District’s next representative.

Giannino is an at-large city councilor in Revere. She was first elected in 2012 and served as city council president in 2016 and 2018. In addition to Vincent, she has received recent endorsements from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 and EMILY’s List. View more of Giannino’s endorsement here.

Gravellese worked for Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo and state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-8th Sussex), who recently endorsed him. Gravellese also received endorsements from 350 Mass Action, Act on Mass, and Progressive Massachusetts. View more of Gravellese’s endorsements here.

Ballotpedia previously reported on this primary on May 20 after the Massachusetts Retirees Association endorsed Giannino and two local union branches endorsed Gravellese.

Rayner leads in fundraising in Florida’s four-way House District 70 primary

On Aug. 9, Florida Politics’ Janelle Irwin Taylor reported that Michele Rayner leads in fundraising in the four-way Democratic primary for Florida’s House District 70. According to reports filed at the end of July, Rayner had raised $97,000. Mark Oliver raised $44,000. Keisha Bell and Michelle Grimsley have raised $26,000 and $20,000, respectively. 

Incumbent Rep. Wengay Newton (D-70) is not running for re-election and endorsed Grimsley in the primary.

Rayner is an attorney and founder of Civil Liberty Law. Rayner previously served as an assistant public defender for Hillsborough and Pinellas/Pasco Counties. On her website, she said, “It’s time for all residents to have equitable access to housing, clean air and water, education, employment and other basic essentials.”

Oliver is the CEO of Specially Fit, a fitness non-profit for young people with disabilities. He played college football at the University of South Florida. He lists healthcare, education, disabilities, the environment, and infrastructure as top priorities.

Bell’s professional experience includes work as an attorney and leading the Youth Conference Program in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. She is currently a columnist for the Weekly Challenger. She lists healthcare, education, reproductive rights, a livable wage, and anti-discrimination legislation as top priorities.

Grimsley currently serves as a legislative aide in House District 70 and as vice president of public relations with the ManaSota Black Chamber of Commerce. On her campaign website, Grimsley said, “I believe that the first step in getting us on the path to a Florida that works for everyone, is assuring access to affordable healthcare for all.” She lists workers’ rights to organize and a livable wage as other priorities.

There are no other candidates running, meaning it is likely the winner of the Democratic primary will be District 70’s next representative.

Power players

“Our goal is to build a mission-driven caucus in Congress by electing more leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, who will represent our communities in Congress and fight for bold, progressive solutions to our current crises.”

Justice Democrats is a political action committee founded in 2017 by Cenk Uygur, Kyle Kulinski, Zack Exley, and Saikat Chakrabarti. The organization says it recruits and supports candidates challenging Democratic incumbents, assisting them with policy messaging, training, and campaign infrastructure. 

As of June 30, the Justice Democrats PAC has raised $3,560,530 and spent $3,264,998 this election cycle. According to the Federal Elections Commission website, the only independent expenditures the PAC reported was $620,000 in support of Jamaal Bowman and $300,000 in opposition to Eliot Engel. In last week’s Missouri primaries, Justice Democrats-backed candidate Cori Bush defeated incumbent William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary.

Click the following link to see Justice Democracts’ 2020 Candidates.

Ilhan Omar wins MN-05 Democratic primary

Incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar defeated four candidates in the Democratic primary for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. As of 9:25 p.m. Central Time, she had received 57% of the vote. Antone Melton-Meaux was second with 39%.

This was the first time in more than 85 years that an incumbent U.S. representative from Minnesota had more than three primary challengers.

Omar is among four congresswomen often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). She said her accomplishments in the House include passing more amendments than any other member of the Minnesota delegation, working to extend the Deferred Enforced Departure status for Liberians in the state, and introducing the Student Debt Cancellation Act.

Melton-Meaux, a lawyer and mediator, criticized Omar by saying she was more focused on arguments with the president and celebrity status than on the needs of the district. He said he would find common ground with others to achieve progressive goals.

As of July 22, Omar had raised $4.3 million to Melton-Meaux’s $4.2 million.

Omar won the 2018 general election by a margin of 56 percentage points. All 435 seats in the U.S. House will be up for election on November 3, 2020. As of August 2020, Democrats have a 232-198 advantage over Republicans. There is one Libertarian member, and there were four vacancies.

Zuckerman wins Democratic gubernatorial primary in Vermont

David Zuckerman won Vermont’s Democratic gubernatorial primary on August 11, 2020. With 55% of precincts reporting, he had received 44% of the vote. Rebecca Holcombe was second with 33%. Patrick Winburn and Ralph Corbo received less than 10% each.

Zuckerman is Vermont’s lieutenant governor. He previously served in the state Senate as a Progressive/Democrat from 2013 to 2017 and in the state House as a Progressive Party member from 1997 to 2011. Holcombe was Vermont’s education secretary from 2014 to 2018.

Vermont has a Republican governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. It is one of 14 states with a divided government. Vermont is also one of four states that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and has a Republican governor in 2020. Three election forecasters rate the general election either Likely Republican or Solid Republican.

Incumbent Gov. Phil Scott (R) is seeking re-election and won the Republican primary.

Kahele wins Democratic nomination to succeed Gabbard in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District

Hawaii State Sen. Kaiali’i Kahele defeated Brian Evans, Brenda Lee, and Noelle Famera to win the Democratic nomination in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District Aug. 8. Kahele received 77% of the vote to Evans’ 9%, Lee’s 8%, and Famera’s 6%.

Kahele, who has served in the Hawaii state Senate since 2016, said his policy priorities were increasing funding for public education, expanding access to healthcare, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Both Evans and Famera completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Evans, who was the Republican nominee for the seat in 2018 and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014, said he would focus on ending the disrespectful treatment of sacred land, increasing tax rates on foreign residents, and responding to medical errors.

Famera, a businesswoman with experience in insurance sales, said she supported a universal basic income program, a data rights bill, and funding measures to respond to climate change.

Incumbent Tulsi Gabbard (D), who was first elected in 2012, ran for president this year rather than seeking re-election. Gabbard won each general election in the 2nd District by a margin of 50 percentage points or greater, and election forecasters say the district is safely Democratic.

Bush defeats incumbent Clay in Democratic primary rematch in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District

Cori Bush defeated incumbent William Lacy Clay and Katherine Bruckner in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District Democratic primary. Bush received 49% of the vote to Clay’s 46%. Clay is one of seven incumbent representatives who have lost in primaries in 2020.

Bush challenged Clay in the district’s 2018 primary, which Clay won with 57% of the vote to Bush’s 37%. Clay was first elected in 2000. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed his re-election bid.

Bush received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jamaal Bowman, a candidate for New York’s 16th District who defeated 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in the district’s June 23 Democratic primary.

Additional reading:

Tlaib defeats Jones in Michigan’s 13th District Democratic primary

Incumbent Rep. Rashida Tlaib defeated Brenda Jones in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Democratic primary. With 90% of precincts reporting, Tlaib had received 66% of the vote to Jones’ 34%.

The primary was a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 29 (August 5, 2020)

This week: Cori Bush defeats incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay, Ilhan Omar releases first TV ad, and Ocasio-Cortez appears in an ad for Ed Markey.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from Aug. 4.

  • Arizona’s 1st Congressional District: Incumbent Tom O’Halleran defeated Eva Putzova. O’Halleran received 59% to Putzova’s 41% with 98% of precincts reporting. O’Halleran, a former Republican member of the state legislature, was first elected to the seat as a Democrat in 2016. He co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition. Putzova is a former member of the Flagstaff City Council.
  • Arizona’s 6th Congressional District: Hiral Tipirneni won with 54% of the vote to Anita Malik’s 36%, with 95% of precincts reporting. In the general election, Tipirneni will run against incumbent David Schweikert (R) in a district rated lean Republican.
  • Michigan’s 13th Congressional District: Incumbent Rashida Tlaib won with 66% of the vote to Brenda Jones’ 34%, with 87% of precincts reporting. The race was a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the district’s regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election. Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary.
  • Missouri’s 1st Congressional District: Cori Bush defeated incumbent William Lacy Clay and Katherine Bruckner. Bush received 49% of the vote to Clay’s 46%. Clay is one of seven incumbent representatives who have lost in primaries in 2020, along with Steve Watkins who lost the Republican primary in Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District on Aug. 4.
  • Bush challenged Clay in the district’s 2018 primary, which Clay won with 57% of the vote to Bush’s 37%. Clay was first elected in 2000. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed his re-election bid. Bush received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jamaal Bowman, a candidate for New York’s 16th District who defeated 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in the district’s June 23 Democratic primary. 
  • Washington’s 10th Congressional District, top-two: As of 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time on Aug. 5, this race had not been called. Marilyn Strickland (D) led with 21.4% of the vote. Beth Doglio (D) had 14.4%, Kristine Reeves (D) had 13.2%, and Rian Ingrim (R) had 10.6%. Nineteen candidates—eight Democrats, eight Republicans, one independent, one Essential Workers Party candidate, and one Congress Sucks Party candidate—ran in the primary. Denny Heck (D), in office since 2013, sought election as lieutenant governor, leaving the seat open.
  • Washington governor, top-two primary: Incumbent Jay Inslee (D) and Loren Culp (R) were the top two finishers among a field of 36 candidates and will compete in the general election. With half of precincts reporting, Inslee received 52% of the vote and Culp received 17%.
  • St. Louis Circuit Attorney: Incumbent Kimberly Gardner won the Democratic primary for circuit attorney in St. Louis. She received 61% of the vote to Mary Pat Carl’s 39%. The race was a rematch. Gardner and Carl ran in the four-candidate Democratic primary in 2016, where Gardner received 47% of the vote and Carl was second with 24%.

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On vice-presidential ambition

“Biden’s biggest strength is that he has from the beginning of the primary contest polled best in head-to-head matchups against Trump. ‘Electability’ was always the number one issue for most Democratic primary voters desperate to put an end to Trump’s reign … But that doesn’t mean even older, more moderate Democratic voters want Biden determining the character of the party going forward–much less the younger … progressive wing winning an increasingly larger share of the party’s internal battles. Biden is a calming caretaker for our democracy, not the face of the Democratic Party’s future. His vice-presidential pick shouldn’t be determining that, either.


“In short, an underrated characteristic of Biden’s vice-presidential pick should be that she not necessarily want the job in four to eight years. Not as a knock against anyone he might choose, but because after the immediate danger of Trump is passed, Democratic voters should be at liberty to freely choose the direction of the party over the next decade without being locked into the defensive, electability-driven calculations of the Biden campaign in 2020.”

David Atkins, Washington Monthly, Aug. 1, 2020

“Fourteen American vice presidents have gone to become president, including John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and George H.W. Bush. But even as Joe Biden vies to become the 15th, a warped, sexist narrative has emerged in recent days that his female running mate should not have presidential ambitions herself …


“Political ambition is tantamount to striving for power, and when it comes from women, it makes people deeply comfortable. American culture tends to like unassuming models and actresses who are discovered magically, serendipitously, plucked from obscurity, aw-shucks-ing their way up the ladder. To try is to offend the increasingly delicate status quo of white-male rule and the evident fragility of Biden’s inner circle. The truth is: Every woman on their short list is powered by ambition. They could never have become senators and governors and congressional leaders without it—especially not in the male-dominated world of politics, with people like Biden’s top donors working against them.”

Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, Aug. 3, 2020

U.S. Congress

Ilhan Omar releases first TV ad in MN-05

Rep. Ilhan Omar released her first TV ad ahead of the Aug. 11 primary in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. 

In the ad, Omar says, “We can translate our cries for justice into legislation, and that’s the fight we have been leading in Congress.” In a second ad, Omar said Antone Melton-Meaux, one of the five primary candidates, was a partner at “one of the worst union-busting law firms in the country” and that he used nondisclosure agreements to prevent women from talking about sexual harassment.   

Melton-Meaux says he would find common ground with others to reach progressive goals. In a recent ad, he said, “I won’t be chasing cameras or selling books. I’ll work for you.” Melton-Meaux’s campaign slogan is “Focused On the Fifth.”

As we recently reported, Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. As of July 22, Omar had raised a total of $4.3 million to Melton-Meaux’s $4.2 million.

Two primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Click on candidates’ names below to read their responses.

If you’d like to learn more about the survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

Ocasio-Cortez appears in Markey ad

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) appeared in an ad for Sen. Ed Markey, who faces Joe Kennedy III in Massachusetts’ Senate primary

Ocasio-Cortez said Markey was an original cosponsor of Medicare for All legislation and that he co-authored the Green New Deal resolution with her in 2019. She said, “When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts. It’s the age of your ideas.”  

Markey, 74, has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy, 39, has been in the U.S. House since 2013. 

Kennedy says he supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. At a recent debate, he said Markey hadn’t done enough to implement the Green New Deal. Kennedy has said the race is part of the “fight of my generation,” but also said, “This isn’t about age, and it isn’t about seniority. … It’s about meeting this moment and doing everything that you can possibly do to take it on.”

Along with Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Markey. Recently, the Massachusetts Teachers Association backed him.

Kennedy’s endorsers include Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and former Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died last month. 

A recent JMC Analytics poll found Markey with 40% support, Kennedy with 36%, and 24% undecided. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 4.4 percentage points.

The poll also asked if Markey’s 44 years in Congress would make respondents more or less likely to vote for him—30% said less likely, 30% said more likely, and 40% said it made no difference. When asked about the effect of the Kennedy family name, 20% said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate with it, 24% said less likely, and 57% said it made no difference. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

Feltes, Volinsky spar over unemployment benefits in New Hampshire gubernatorial debate

State Sen. Dan Feltes (D) and New Hampshire Executive Councilman Andru Volinsky (D) discussed the coronavirus pandemic and economic recovery plans in their first in-person gubernatorial debate on July 29.

Feltes criticized Volinsky’s position on reevaluating enhanced unemployment insurance, saying, “This election is about who’s [sic] side are you on – working people and working families. You got to be on their side full time, not part time.”

Volinsky, who said the amount of the weekly $600 federal benefit should be reconsidered, defended his record as an attorney and public servant. “No one gets to claim that mantle in this race. We’re both committed to working-class people,” Volinsky said.

The primary is scheduled for Sept. 8. On the Republican side, incumbent Chris Sununu (R), who was first elected in 2016, faces two opponents. Two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win the general election and a third says it leans Republican.


*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Cabrera and Farmer participate in Connecticut Senate District 17 debate

On July 28, Jorge Cabrera and Justin Farmer participated in a virtual debate sponsored by The Valley Independent Sentinel, WNHH Radio, and The New Haven Independent. Cabrera and Farmer are vying for the Democratic nomination to face incumbent Sen. George Logan (R-17). 

Cabrera is an organizing director with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 919. He received endorsements from the Connecticut branches of the AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union as well as from the District 17 Democratic Party.

Farmer is a member of the Hamden Legislative Council. The Democratic Socialists of America, Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut, and the Connecticut Young Democrats endorsed his campaign.

On a question about healthcare, Cabrera discussed his support for a public option, saying, “I’m a big believer in high-quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.” Farmer said, “I am a big proponent of Medicare for All,” adding that “We can have a Connecticut option to allow our undocumented community members to be covered.”

In Connecticut, candidates participate in conventions before proceeding to primaries. A candidate can win the nomination outright at a convention so long as no other candidates receive more than 15% of the delegate vote. On May 27, we covered the convention vote setting up the contest between Cabrera and Farmer. Delegates supported Cabrera over Farmer 39-10, enough votes to net Cabrera the party’s endorsement, but not enough to win the nomination outright.

In 2018, Logan defeated Cabrera, that cycle’s Democratic nominee, 50.1-49.9%, a margin of 85 votes. In 2016, District 17 supported Hillary Clinton (D) over Donald Trump (R), 53-44%.

Sunrise Rhode Island endorses challenger Potter in House District 16 primary against Rep. Millea

On July 29, Sunrise RI, the Rhode Island affiliate of the national Sunrise Movement, endorsed Brandon Potter (D) in the House District 16 primary, where he is challenging incumbent Rep. Christopher Millea (D-16). Sunrise Movement describes itself as “a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.”

Announcing the endorsement, Potter, a sales manager, said, “We not only have a moral obligation to protect our environment, we have a major economic opportunity to invest in renewable energy.” In addition to Sunrise RI, he received endorsements from the Rhode Island affiliates of Planned Parenthood Votes! and Our Revolution.

Millea was first elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Robert Lancia (R), 53-47% in the general election. In his campaign announcement, Millea said that he “has been a constant champion for education reform and governmental transparency.” He added, “There is far more work to be done for the residents of District 16, but we have made tremendous progress.”

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face Maryann Lancia (R), the wife of former Rep. Lancia, in the general election. 

Power players

“The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is the centralized hub for executing a comprehensive redistricting strategy that shifts the redistricting power, creating fair districts where Democrats can compete.” – National Democratic Redistricting Committee website

Since 2017, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee says it has been working to position Democrats favorably for redistricting through litigation, legislation, and elections. Currently led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, it also counts President Barack Obama (D) among its notable supporters. 

As of June 30, its PAC has raised $3,899,804 and spent $2,397,598 this election cycle. Among its largest campaign contributions are $250,000 to Common Good Virginia, a committee supporting Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), $75,000 to the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, and $75,000 to the Virginia House Democratic Caucus.

Click the following links to view the organization’s 2019-2020 electoral targets and endorsements.

Previewing Missouri’s 1st Congressional District Democratic primary

Incumbent William Lacy Clay, Katherine Bruckner, and Cori Bush are running in the Aug. 4 Democratic Party primary in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. Bush challenged Clay in the district’s 2018 Democratic primary, which Clay won, receiving 57% of the vote to Bush’s 37%.

Clay was first elected in 2000, replacing his father, former Rep. William Lacy Clay, Sr. (D). Clay Jr. served in the Missouri State Legislature from 1983 to 2001. He received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In their endorsement, the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board wrote, “[Clay] has been a steady, predictable representative and a reliable vote for mainstream Democratic priorities — including the fight against poverty and for social justice.”

Bush is a nurse and civil rights organizer who was involved with demonstrations in Ferguson after the shooting death of Michael Brown by police. She received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jamaal Bowman (D), a candidate in New York’s 16th District who defeated 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel (D) in the district’s June 23 primary. In his endorsement, Bowman said, “Bush understands the struggles facing her communities, because she’s lived them herself … She will fight to confront racist and reckless policing … and I’m proud to support her grassroots campaign.”

Pre-primary reports show Clay raising $744,000 and Bush with $569,000. At this same point in the 2018 primary, Clay had raised $407,000 compared to Bush’s $139,000.

Clay and his father have represented the 1st District since 1969. Three race-tracking outlets rate the district as Solid/Safe Democratic. The winner of the primary will face Libertarian Alex Furman and the winner of the Republican primary, either Winnie Heartstrong or Anthony Rogers, in the general election.

Blue Dog Coalition co-chairman O’Halleran faces Our Revolution-backed Putzova in Arizona primary

Rep. Tom O’Halleran faces challenger Eva Putzova in the Democratic primary for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District on August 4. O’Halleran was first elected to the House in 2016 and did not face a primary challenger in 2018.

O’Halleran, who served eight years in the state legislature as a Republican before leaving the party in 2014, is co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of House Democrats describing themselves as “pragmatic Democrats, appealing to the mainstream values of the American public.” His endorsers include Everytown for Gun Safety, the League of Conservation Voters, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Putzova, an immigrant from former Czechoslovakia and a former member of the Flagstaff City Council, says she is running to limit the influence corporations have over policy. Putzova says she will fight for “freedom from illness and medical bills, freedom from crushing student loan debt, freedom to enjoy a healthy life on this planet.” Former 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (D), Brand New Congress, and Our Revolution each endorsed her.

Arizona’s 1st Congressional District is one of 30 districts nationwide represented by a Democrat that Donald Trump (R) carried in 2016. Trump carried the district by a margin of 1.1 percentage points that year, while O’Halleran was re-elected in 2018 by a margin of 8.8 percentage points.

Arizona is among five states holding Congressional primaries next Tuesday. Ballotpedia identified one other Congressional primary in Arizona as a battleground: the special Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Incumbent Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat in 2018, will face Daniel McCarthy and write-in candidate Sean Lyons as she seeks the Republican nomination to fill the remainder of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) unexpired term.

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Five states to hold congressional primaries on August 4

On August 4, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington are holding statewide primaries. Between these five states, 48 congressional seats—45 U.S. House seats and three U.S. Senate seats—are up for election.

Arizona is holding a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by former Sen. John McCain’s (R) death on August 25, 2018. Martha McSally (R) is the current appointed incumbent, and she is running in the August 4 Republican primary. The winner of the November 3 general election will take office on January 3, 2021, and serve the remaining two years of McCain’s term. Arizona is also holding primary elections for all nine of its U.S. House seats on August 4.

Both Kansas and Michigan are holding congressional primaries for Senate and House seats. In Kansas, elections are being held for the state’s Class II Senate seat currently held by Pat Roberts (R) and all four of the state’s U.S. House seats. Michigan is holding elections for the Class II Senate seat held by Gary Peters (D) and all 14 of its House seats.

Neither Missouri nor Washington has a Senate seat up for election in 2020. Missouri is holding elections for its eight House seats, and Washington is holding elections for its 10 House seats.

The 45 House seats up for election on August 4 represent 10.3% of the 435 total seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, all of which are up for election in 2020. The three Senate seats up for election that day equal 3% of the Senate’s 100 total seats and approximately 8.6% of the 35 Senate seats up for election this year (33 are up for regular election; two are up for special election).

Candidates in all five states are competing to advance to their respective states’ general elections scheduled for November 3, 2020.

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